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Posted May 1, 2013
Dr. Ellen Visits ACH Outpatient Care Centers

Dr. Ellen Visits East Lake Outpatient Care Center
Dr. Ellen visits with a patient at Outpatient Care, Brandon
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EAST LAKE - Call it Grand Rounds with a twist.

Over the past two months, All Children's President Dr. Jonathan Ellen has made the rounds on a grand scale, visiting virtually all the hospital's 10 outpatient centers in the region. The first-hand look at the diverse operations has been illuminating and gratifying both to Dr. Ellen and the staff at each location.

"As we move into a population health approach and think about continuing care, it's important to understand the opportunity we have as an organization that is not apparent when you look at a piece of paper or a bunch of pictures on a wall," he said. "I think you need to get out and see the centers - see the clients, the families, the staff that is working - and get a sense of how they function. What's been very helpful to me is physically seeing how spread out we are, and how embedded the centers are in the communities."

Like the traditional Grand Rounds - the Friday presentations on topical issues for staff at  All Children's - the visits showcased how each outpatient center connects with the area it serves. That was the ultimate take-away for Dr. Ellen after recently visiting the bustling East Lake facility, housed in a large, modern building beside a pastoral pond.

"These centers have actually have been established to put roots in the community, and continue to spread our mission in a very fundamental way, not just in a narrowly focused way," he continued.

At each stop, Dr. Ellen's presence provided a wave of enthusiasm, with staff members savoring the opportunity to meet him in person and demonstrate how their programs work. That was certainly the case at East Lake.

"The staff was really excited," said Phyllis Montali, director at the East Lake center. "We've seen him on screen and read about him in e-Scope but it's so nice to meet him in person. And everyone here was commenting on how personable he is - how he talked to them and really connected. They were really proud."

Dr. Ellen was given an in-depth look at the center, which owns a latest-generation ultrasound machine - the only one in the All Children's network other than on the main campus.

"I mentioned to Dr. Ellen that the piece of equipment that we have we were able to get through a grant with the help of Congressman Gus Bilirakis," Montali said. It's a demo unit that is state of the art, and we're really excited that we have that equipment here. We have area physicians who refer kids over for all kinds of views. And what's nice about our unit is that it can produce two views - both transverse and sagittal - at the same time and with one shot. So it's less time and less scary for the patient."

Dr. Ellen also saw how all of East Lake's rehabilitation services are self-contained on the second floor, and all the clinics are on the first floor. "It's a nice flow for us because it enhances the interdisciplinary treatment program we have in rehab," Montali explained.

The group, which also included Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations Cindy Rose, Vice President of Human Resources Jay Kuhns and Vice President of Operations John Harding, gained an appreciation of the center's serene setting. It overlooks a pond inhabited by all manner of birds, a family of Mallards that visited for the winter - and even gators. The wildlife scenery not only provides a great view for all, but has been integrated into some rehab work on site.

"We love our building and we love being on the pond," Montali said. "We talked about all the language opportunities that speech therapists and occupational therapists have, being able to discuss the ducks and egrets and alligators with the patients. And for the sports rehab room, we've got the treadmill facing the window. So when the kids are in the middle of their long session, they have a lot of things they can see out there. We love that part of it."

The pride at East Lake is apparent in another way, too. Three staffers from the center have been named ACH Employee of the Month in the past six months, the latest being physical therapist Terri Graffeo, who received her award in Dr. Ellen's presence. She joins office supervisor Shauna Miller and occupational therapist Lee Ann Tripepi in the most recent group. But East Lake also has another three past winners on its 21-person staff:  physical therapist Marijcke van der Merwe, speech therapist Sarah Wilson, and office assistant Carmen Cespedes.

"Everyone here goes above and beyond," said Montali. "They all ought to be Employee of the Month."

Such feelings abound at each center, and Dr. Ellen was able to see it all for himself during the many visits to the centers:  for the record, also including Brandon, Fort Myers, Lakeland, Lakewood Ranch, Pasco, Sertoma/Citrus County, Sarasota, South Tampa and Tampa.

"He appeared very humbled and proud of the work that his Outreach Centers do for their communities every day," said Robin Riley, director of the Brandon center. "Dr. Ellen toured the facility and spoke with many staff members. Everyone was delighted and proud to have him experience our busy day here."

Patra Bates, Outpatient Care Center Director for Pasco, echoed the statement. Dr. Ellen had previously visited her center, but spent his second visit talking in depth to the medical staff. Bates had spoken ahead of time with members of her team and felt it would be important for them to express to him what the community needs are in the area.

"It was very nice of Dr. Ellen to spend the time fact-finding and asking my RN questions about what exactly she feels those needs are," Bates said. "I'd say that this visit was more up close and personal with a few staff members and I think it meant a lot to them. It made them feel like, 'Gee, he's listening to us.' And I also felt that he had a better picture of all that goes on up here. So I appreciated that."

A shared sentiment from a series of grand rounds, indeed.

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